What is Intermittent Fasting?

Intermittent fasting is not a diet. 

Ummm Logan? How am I gonna lose weight if I’m not on a diet?

Well well be patient my young grass hopper cause I’m about to tell you yo. 

Intermittent fasting is about making a conscious decision to skip certain meals on purpose.

By fasting and then feasting on purpose, intermittent fasting generally means that you consume your calories during a specific eating window of the day, and choose not to eat food for a larger window of the day.

There are a few different ways to take advantage of intermittent fasting:

  • Eat during a specific window of times.  For example, only eating from noon-8 PM, essentially skipping breakfast.  Some people only eat in a 6-hour window, or even a 4-hour window. AKA “feasting” and “fasting” parts of your days.   (My tip- shoot for later in the day and crush dinner with your significant other or friends or family).

 

  • Skip eating for one full day, taking a full 24-hours off from eating. For example, eating on a normal schedule (finishing dinner at 8PM) and then not eating again until 8PM the following day. So you would eat your normal 3 meals per day, and then occasionally pick a day to skip breakfast and lunch the next day. 

Now, you might be thinking: “okay, so by skipping a meal, I just eat less than normal, and thus I will lose weight, right?”  

Well, that’s partly true.  

Yes, by cutting out an entire meal each day, you are on average consuming fewer calories per week – even if your two meals per day are slightly bigger than before (which is crucial for losing weight).  

However, as we already know that not all calories are created equal, the timing of meals can also influence how your body reacts.  

“Want to lose weight? Make sure you start off with a healthy breakfast, so you can get that metabolism firing first thing in the morning!  “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a peasant.”

“Want to lose more weight? Make sure you eat six small meals throughout the day so your metabolism stays operating at maximum capacity all day long.”

 

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BS!!!

But but but Logan, there are studies that show those that eat earlier in the day lose more weight than those who eat later in the day or skip a meal.

So, eat breakfast to lose weight and obtain optimal health.  

Case closed…right?

Read my Changing beliefs article. 

Changing your belief and using science to back, back, back it up. 

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Maybe there’s way more to the story. As skeptics we operate from from principles: what if there’s science and research that shows SKIPPING BREAKFAST (the horror!!) for optimum efficiency, maximum muscle retention, and body fat loss?

After firmly being on “Team Breakfast” for 21 years of my life, I’ve skipped breakfast for the past 3.5 years and will most likely never go back!

Warning: This is a topic that is controversial (which is funny – you’re just skipping a meal) as it turns a LOT of conventional wisdom on its head. This is why this article is filled with more sources and citations than the normal LTN article. 

How does intermittent fasting work?

With intermittent fasting, your body operates differently when “feasting” compared to when “fasting”:

When you eat a meal, your body spends a few hours processing that food, burning what it can from what you just consumed.  Because it has all of this readily-available, easy to burn energy (thanks to the food you ate), your body will choose to use that as energy rather than the fat you have stored.  This is especially true if you just consumed carbohydrates? sugar, as your body prefers to burn sugar as energy before any other source.

During the “fasted state,” your body doesn’t have a recently consumed meal to use as energy, so it is more likely to pull from the fat stored in your body as its the only energy source readily available.

What is Intermittent Fasting?

The same goes for working out in a “fasted” state.  Without a ready supply of glucose and glycogen to pull from (which has been depleted over the course of your fasted state, and hasn’t yet been replenished with a pre-workout meal), your body is forced to adapt and pull from the only source of energy available to it: the fat stored in your cells.

Why does this work?  Our bodies react to energy consumption (eating food) with insulin production. In addition to this, the more sensitive your body is to insulin, the more likely you’ll be to use the food you consume efficiently, which can help lead to weight loss and and muscle gain.

Along with that, your body is most sensitive to insulin following a period of fasting.

Your glycogen (a starch stored in your muscles and liver that your body can burn as fuel when necessary) is depleted during sleep (and thus during fasting), and will be depleted even further during training, which can further increase insulin sensitivity.

This means that a meal immediately following your workout will be stored most efficiently: mostly as glycogen for muscle stores, burned as energy immediately to help with the recovery process, with minimal amounts stored as fat.

Compare this to a regular day (no intermittent fasting):  With insulin sensitivity at normal levels, the carbs and foods consumed will see full glycogen stores, enough glucose in the blood stream, and thus be more likely to get stored as fat.

Not only that, but growth hormone is increased during fasted states (both during sleep and after a period of fasting). Combine this  increased growth hormone secretion, the decrease in insulin production (and thus increase in insulin sensitivity), and you’re essentially priming your body for muscle growth and fat loss with intermittent fasting.

The less science-y version: Intermittent fasting can help teach your body to use the food it consumes more efficiently, and your body can learn to burn fat as fuel when you deprive it of new calories constantly.  For many different physiological reasons, fasting can help promote weight loss and muscle building when done properly.  

But why does every bodybuilding health  expert say “6 small meals?

 

1) When you eat a meal, your body does have to burn extra calories just to process that meal.  So, the theory is that if you eat every 2-3 hours with small meals, your body is constantly burning extra calories and your metabolism is firing at optimal capacity, right? Well, that’s not really true. Whether you eat 2000 calories spread out throughout the day, or 2000 calories in a small window, your body will burn 2000 calories So, the whole “keep your metabolism firing at optimum capacity by always eating” sounds good in principle, but reality tells a different story.

2) When you eat smaller meals, you might be less likely to overeat during your regular meals.  I can definitely see some truth here, especially for people who struggle with portion control or don’t know how much food they should be eating.

However, once you educate yourself and take control of your eating, some might find that eating six times a day is very tedious and requires a lot of effort.  Along with that, because you’re eating six small meals, I’d say that you probably never feel “full,” and you might be MORE likely to eat extra calories during each snack.

You could be like Neo from the Matrix and be THE ONE (but I know my system has a hard time disengaging with food once I start on that eating frenzy) 

Now let’s take it back… WAY BACK

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If we want to think back to the caveman days.  Do you think Ted “caveman” Rogan pulled out his chicken breast and steamed broccoli with a pocket full of nuts (not those nuts, get your head out of the gutter) six times a day to consume his equally portioned meals in Tupperware containers?  My guess is no…..  He ate when he could, endured and dealt with long periods of NOT eating (no refrigeration or food storage) and his body adapted to still function optimally enough to still go out and catch new food. 

The so called Grandfather of intermittent fasting Martin Berkham from LeanGains points out two important quotes from these following study’s: 

“…The premise underlying the present study was that increasing meal frequency would lead to better short-term appetite regulation and increased dietary compliance; furthermore, it was hypothesized that these predicted beneficial effects of increased meal frequency could have resulted from more favorable gut peptide profiles, potentially leading to greater weight loss. Under the conditions described in the present study, all three hypotheses were rejected.”

“…We had postulated that increasing meal frequency would enhance the compliance to the energy restricted diet thus leading to greater weight loss, an effect possibly mediated by increased fullness. The present results do not support this hypothesis.”

Check it out, the type of food you eat matters. Meal frequency is not nearly as important as the quantity and quality of food consumed. This study reached similar conclusions.

Why intermittent fasting?

 Ya know, I’m glad you asked. 

At LTN we’re all about making life simple. 

IF simplifies your day. Rather than having to prepare, pack, eat, and time your meals every 2-3 hours, you simply skip a meal or two and only worry about eating food in your eating window. It’s one less decision you have to make every day. If you’re at all obsessed with time. You’ll find such a huge relief that if you don’t eat for 3 hours. Your muscles are not going to fall off. Pretty cool….

Also because it can work for you. Although we know that not all calories are created equal, caloric restriction plays a central role in weight loss. When you fast (either for 16 hours per day, or 24 hours every few days), you are also making it easier to restrict your caloric intake over the course of the week. This will give your body a chance to lose weight as you’re simply just eating less calories than you were consuming before. Do this consistently, and it can lead to consistent weight loss and maintenance.

It requires less time (and potentially money, and money is pretty cool right? Anything that gives you more freedom is cool) Rather than having to prepare or purchase three to six meals a day, you only need to prepare two meals.  Instead of stopping what you’re doing six times a day to eat, you simply only have to stop to eat twice.  Rather than having to do the dishes six times, you only have to do them twice. Rather than having to purchase six meals a day, you only need to purchase two. (Time is money and I’m saving you time. So therefore I’m basically giving you money. Why? Because I care.) 

It promotes stronger insulin sensitivity and increased growth hormone secretion, two keys for weight loss and muscle gain.  This was already explained in the previous section with relevant sources, but intermittent fasting helps you kill two birds with one stone. 

Okay so If you’re not sold yet. Wolverines does it. So does Terry Crews. Oh yeah and well, LTN. 

What are the drawbacks with intermittent fasting? Because there’s no perfect way of eating, working out or perfect human being. But at LTN we’re striving for it. So let’s look at the possible downers. 

In my own experimentation over the past three years, I have found very few negative side effects with Intermittent fasting. 

The biggest concern most people have is that Intermittent Fasting will lead to lower energy, focus, and the “holy crap I am hungry” feeling during the fasting period and ruin them. Or deflate their muscles. People are concerned that they will spend all morning being miserable because they haven’t consumed any food, and thus will be miserable at work and ineffective at whatever task it is they are working on.

Let’s get some personal insight. 

Yes, the initial transition from EATING ALL THE TIME, to intermittent fasting MIGHT be a bit of a shock to your system; it was for me. However, once I got through the transition after a few days, (kind of like turning into a vampire), my body quickly adapted and learned to function just as well only eating a few times a day. (Luckily, blood doesn’t have calories in it…)

Although I fast for 16 hours per day, the following data may assist you with the absolute scarcity of skipping breakfast will cause your body to eat itself and your brain to implode:

This study-  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/18779282/ explains that the participants results of a 48-hour fast, “cognitive performance, activity, sleep, and mood are not adversely affected in healthy humans by two days of calorie-deprivation.”

“So Logan, riddle me this. Why do I get hangry (Anger that manifest from hunger) when I’m not eating breakfast?” In LTN’s humble opinion, a good portion of the Hanger is a result of our eating habits. If you eat every three hours on a regular basis, your body will automatically begins to get hungry every three hours as it learns and becomes used to expecting (and receiving) food every three hours. If you eat breakfast every morning, your body is expecting to wake up and eat food. 

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“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” The term redpill refers to a human that is aware of the true nature of Intermittent Fasting.

Let me be your Morpheus 

Once you retrain your body to NOT expect food all day every day (or first thing in the morning), these side-effects become less of an issue (thanks to a hormone our bodies produce called Ghrelin). However, you can expect a few rough mornings and maybe decreased focus at work because all you can think about is the breakfast you’re not typically eating. It does go away after a few days. I found this to be easier and easier. 

It’s important to understand that Intermittent Fasting is NOT a remedy to cure everything wrong with your life. Please don’t persuade yourself into believing that if you skip breakfast and then eat 4,000 calories of McDonalds for lunch and dinner that you will lose weight.

If you have an addictive relationship with food and you struggle with portion control, track your calorie intake in your meals to make sure you’re not overeating. 

(And for those of you who are used to tracking six meals a day…. oh so much easier with just two or three)

But, if you skip breakfast, you might be so hungry from this that you OVEREAT for lunch and this can lead to weight gain. Again, the important thing here is that with intermittent fasting you’re eating fewer calories than normal because you’re skipping a meal every day.

Take it back to the caveman days.  We certainly found ways to survive during periods of feast and famine, and that remains true today. Now imagine if you needed to eat in order to be active: what would hungry cavemen do? They would go find food, and that probably meant a ton of effort. It actually takes our bodies about 84 hours before our glucose levels are adversely affected.  As we’re talking about small fasts (16-24 hour periods), this doesn’t put us into that category. 

 

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Intermittent Fasting can be more complex for people who have issues with blood sugar regulation, suffer from hypoglycemia, have diabetes, etc. If you fit into this category, check with your doctor or dietitian before adjusting your eating schedule.

I believe more research needs to be done for these particular cases and thus would recommend you do what works best for, well, YOU. 

LTN I love this idea of losing weight with IF.  Can I gain muscle with IF?

Uhhhhhh, CHYEAHH!!!!!

Check me out (again) 

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Same weight and I eat roughly the same number of calories I was consuming before, but instead of eating all damn day long, I condensed all of my calorie consumption into a 8 hour window.

  • 12 AM Wake up and do light walk. Do some mobility drills. Do life chores. Be productive with writing and such. 
  • 7 PM Consume about 25 percent of my calories for the day (a regular whole-food meal, eggs, freeze dried Apples and about a half cup of oatmeal.)
  • 8:30 PM Mobility warm up. Workout with weights. 
  • SIP ON BCAA’s (If I get hungry again I just chew some gum honestly.)
  • 1:00 AM – 2:30 AM the next day: EAT REMAINING CALORIES (Yupp you’re reading that right. An hour and half of eating. It’s not eating the entire time. I take my time with my food. Really chew it. Listening to podcast, or listen to an audiobook. Currently loving Mind Pump and E on Fire for podcasts. As for book. My Happiness Project by Rubin Gretchen.)

I’m not pulling your leg when I say this has revolutionized how I look at muscle building and fat loss. Ultimately, this method tests the typical “bulk and cut” techniques of overeating to build muscle (along with adding a lot of fat) before cutting calories to lose fat (along with some muscle) and settling down at a higher weight.

I prefer this method to the bulk-and-cut technique for a few reasons:

  • There’s far less of a crazy swing. If you are putting on 30 pounds and then cutting 25 to gain 5 lbs of muscle, your body is going through drastic swings of body mass. Your clothes will fit differently, which sucks…. You’ll have different levels of definition…. which also sucks. AND your body will wonder what the hell is going on.
  • You’re consuming less food and thus spending less money. Rather than overeating to put on 1 pound of muscle and 4 pounds of fat in a week or two, you’re aiming to eat exactly enough to put on 1 pound of muscle without adding much fat on top of it.  Yeah, it IS A BALANCE, but there’s far less swing involved. And again, it’s simple. You are just slowly, steadily, and consistently building muscle and strength over many months.
  • There’s never a need to get “vacation-ready”: we all want to look good naked, right?  When you are just adding muscle, you don’t need to worry about getting your body ready before by drastically altering your diet (going on a miserable crash diet for a month). I like Anthony Mychal’s technique of never being more than two weeks away.  Keep your body fat percentage low, build strength and muscle, and if you happen to notice your body fat creeping up, cut back on the carbs. Within two weeks you should be back at your preferred body fat percentage and can continue the muscle building process. Seriously… what’s to hate? 

Hit me with it. I know you’ve got some questions. 

Questions about intermittent fasting. 

“Won’t I get really hungry?”  

As explained above, this can be a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.

After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that it’s only eating a few times a day. The more overweight you are, and the more often you eat, the more of an initial struggle this might be.

“Won’t I get really hungry?”  

As explained above, this can be a result of the habits you have built for your body. If you are constantly eating or always eat the same time of day, your body can actually learn to prepare itself for food by beginning the process of insulin production and preparation for food.

After a brief adjustment period, your body can adapt to the fact that it’s only eating a few times a day. The more overweight you are, and the more often you eat, the more of an initial struggle this might be to be totally honest. But if it doesn’t challenge you it won’t change you. 

“Where will I get my energy for my workouts? Won’t I be exhausted and not be able to complete my workouts if fasting?” 

This was a major concern of mine as well.  And for my first workout or two, it was very weird to not eat before training. However, after a few sessions, I learned that my body could certainly function (and even thrive) during my training sessions despite not eating a pre-workout meal. 

I personally like to workout about an hour and half after my workout but you’re in Luck Martin Berkham lays out different protocols to use with different schedules. 

http://www.leangains.com/2010/04/leangains-guide.html?m=1 

“Won’t fasting cause muscle loss?”  

Another big concern of mine, but it turns out…it was unfounded.  We’ve been told by the supplement industry that we need to consume 30 g of protein every few hours, as that’s the most amount of protein our body can process at a time. It makes sense right. The supplement company is trying to sell you more protein so they say, “for optimal results consume 30 grams every two to three hours,” (Silly Rabbit. Trix are for kids). Along with that, we’ve been told that if we don’t eat protein every few hours, our body’s muscle will start to break down to be burned as energy.

NOT TRUE!  This study shows that our bodies are quite adept at preserving muscle even when fasting, and it turns out that protein absorption by our body can take place over several hours. Protein consumed in a shorter period of time has no difference on the body compared to protein spread throughout the day.    

“This sounds stupid, I’m not gonna do it.”

That’s cool.  Are you losing body fat, building muscle, and getting a clean bill of health from your doctor?  If you can say yes to those things, AWESOME. Keep doing what you’re doing, because it’s working.   

However, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing time and time again expecting different results. Take a chance. Hopefully the dozens of studies at least peak your curiosity.  Self-experimentation is the best way to determine WHAT methods work for you. 

Please consult with your doctor and make sure you’re getting blood work done so you’re doing this with safety. 

Here at LTN we want to make life more simple, more free to do the things you love. And lastly, love yourself for doing it. 

Please contact me for tips and tricks to get through the transition period. I’ll be your accountability partner through this process and 10X your results in productivity, physique goals but most importantly I’ll give you steps to make your dreams become your reality. 

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